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Shortlist Saturdays: Newborn by Bill Garvey



On the elevator all manner of dark thoughts slosh

around my skull despite the news that all went well: 

the baby, early, but fine, my daughter, weary, but well,


and yet fears I’ve churned for 48 hours, even while 

riding the subway to the hospital, pondering the births

of all these passengers, won’t give in to joy, a grandchild


whose neck I’ll nuzzle like a friendly vampire, making

her squeal with laughter, planting seeds of a gentle

grandpa in her early murky memories so that at my


funeral she might casually touch the soft skin beneath

her jaw and weep. As we rise to the 15th floor, something

I recall reading years ago, about women delivering 


while tending fields, newborns carried on their backs

as they hacked whatever crop they harvested,

gives me comfort, and I wish I could tell you why


but god knows I can’t – even as he opens the door

to her room to show me my daughter. She’s okay.

Eyes puffy with labor. So much wiser than two days ago. 

Bill Garvey's poetry has been published or is forthcoming in several journals including Cimarron Review, Rattle, New Verse News, Quiddity, Margie, Nixes Mate Review, The Worcester Review, 5AM, Slant, Concho River Review, New York Quarterly, Cloud Lake Literary and The Amethyst Review. Finishing Line Press published Bill's chapbook, The Burden of Angels, in 2007 and his most recent poetry collection The basement on Biella was published by DarkWinter Press in 2023.

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